Mailchimp Omnivore — The 2020 Guide to Fixing Omnivore Warning

April 9, 2020
Written by Salman

If you’re doing email marketing in 2020, there is no doubt that you have heard of Mailchimp. In case you haven’t heard of Mailchimp, you need to look into it now. And if you have heard of Mailchimp, you have almost certainly heard of Omnivore.

Omnivore is Mailchimp’s abuse-prevention program. While that is a good thing, it can sometimes get in the way of you achieving a 100% delivery rate on your email campaign. In this article, we’ll look into what Mailchimp Omnivore is and how you can deal with Mailchimp Omnivore warnings to get the best results on your email marketing campaign.

Mailchimp Omnivore — What Is It?

Okay, so we’ve already established that Omnivore is Mailchimp’s abuse-prevention program. Mailchimp Omnivore is used to reduce suspicious activity from malicious email addresses. If you receive an alert that the particular mailing list has a very high predicted bounce or abuse rate, Mailchimp will disable sending to that list until you remove the bad addresses. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be caused by bad addresses. Mailchimp Omnivore warning could also be triggered by bad URLs and rather suspicious keywords.

In simpler terms, it’s an advanced artificial intelligence that acts as a filter to make your email marketing campaign better. And make no mistake, it is a necessary piece of software. However, because it’s rules of operation are not entirely made transparent for Mailchimp users, you might encounter issues with Mailchimp Omnivore when you’re trying to send your emails.

Mailchimp Omnivore was originally introduced in 2008 and since then gone through several iterations and evolved based on feedback from the users and the needs of the modern email marketing industry.

Why Is Mailchimp Omnivore Necessary?

When it comes down to succeeding in email marketing, you need to have high deliverability and a low bounce rate. When you have suspect email addresses on your list, chances are your emails won’t be delivered and will simply bounce back to you. In the worst case scenarios, you could be marked as a spammer or even have your email account suspended. These are the core issues that Mailchimp is trying to prevent with Mailchimp Omnivore.

By preventing you from sending out emails if you have suspicious email addresses on your list, Mailchimp is saving your campaign from potential bounce back issues. This will help preserve your sender reputation and help you maintain a high deliverability rate throughout. In fact, Mailchimp is just trying to save your business.

But that doesn’t mean it can get annoying when you don’t know how to deal with Mailchimp Omnivore warnings. But before we can get there, we need to know how Omnivore works.

How Does Mailchimp Omnivore Work?

Every time you import new addresses or send a campaign to new email addresses, MailChimp Omnivore will check the mailing list for any email addresses you haven't contacted through Mailchimp yet. These addresses could be:

  • Brand new imports
  • Newly signed-up subscribers
  • People you have segmented out from previous campaigns.

The algorithm will ready every single email address in your mailing list and assign a level of risk to each address. If the risk levels exceed Mailchimp’s accepted threshold, the emails will not be sent.

The problem, however, is that Mailchimp won’t tell you what level of risk it has assigned to which emails. So as a user, you can’t know which addresses are causing problems. This means that you have to take manual action, for which you need to have some email marketing know-how.

Now that we know how Mailchimp Omnivore works, we can tackle the bigger questions such as “What is Mailchimp Omnivore warning?” and “How to solve Mailchimp Omnivore warning?”

What Is Mailchimp Omnivore Warning?

Whenever Mailchimp Omnivore encounters an issue with your mailing list, the platform will let you know that there is an issue. That is what is known as Mailchimp Omnivore warning.

These warnings usually look like this:

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Mailchimp Omnivore Warning (Example 1)

Or this:

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Mailchimp Omnivore Warning (Example 2)

Or this:

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Mailchimp Omnivore Warning (Example 3)

You could get the Mailchimp Omnivore warning either directly by email or via the Mailchimp dashboard. When you get the warning, you need to take action or you will be unable to proceed further with your email marketing campaign.

To solve the Mailchimp Omnivore warning, we need to know what causes it.

MailChimp Omnivore Warning — What Triggers It?

While a lot of the inner workings of the Mailchimp Omnivore system are still unknown to us, Mailchimp has provided a list of potential issues in mailing lists that can trigger a Mailchimp Omnivore warning.

1. Stale Email Addresses

Stale email addresses are a list of addresses that have not received emails from your campaign for a long time. Having stale email addresses on your list can end up causing a higher rate of bounces than if you had an updated list. If you have stale email addresses on your list, you will end up getting a Mailchimp Omnivore warning.

This is because as time passes, email addresses become inactive. And the more older your list is, the more inactive addresses that you’ll have on your mailing list. People forget they have them, leave their companies, or something else happens. In fact, research by Marketing Sherpa shows that B2B data decays at a rate of 2.1% per month. This is an annualized rate of 22.5%.

This means that keeping your data up to date should be a priority. Both to make sure that you don’t face the Mailchimp Omnivore warning issue and to make sure that your campaign proceeds smoothly.

2. Unfamiliar Addresses

Another thing that could cause a Mailchimp Omnivore warning is if it finds unfamiliar addresses in your mailing list. These are addresses that you haven’t contacted before using Mailchimp.

While new addresses are not inherently problematic, they can cause issues based on where they came from. After all, they can come from anywhere. People that just recently signed up for your newsletter or from people who have come in from other campaigns or bots. The possibilities are endless.

It’s almost always better to bring in small amounts of new addresses into the system. Exceeding a certain threshold will trigger a Mailchimp Omnivore warning and that’s not something that we want. Of course, whether the list is small or big, you should make sure that it is clean.

3. Spam Traps

Mailchimp Omnivore also scans every list looking for spam traps.

Spam traps (which are also known as honeypots) are used to identify and monitor spam email. These are used by anti-spam organizations, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and corporations use spam traps to identify outdated lists and lure spammers. They can also use them to generate abuse complaints.

These addresses, obviously, do not belong to genuine subscribers and if they are present on your list, they can get you tagged as a spammer and cause issues for your campaign.

Mailchimp Omnivore Warning — What To Do When You Get It?

What you should not do is ignore the Mailchimp Omnivore warning. As we’ve said before, Mailchimp will simply put a complete stop to your email campaign. And since this is not an issue that will solve itself, until you resolve it, you can’t do anything.

However, trying to DIY the issue is not recommended either. Say, for example, using a BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) to every address and sending the email to yourself. While this will show you the problematic accounts, it will also have a negative impact. Such a massive BCC will affect your sender reputation negatively and it can also bring undesired attention to your IP. Which can in turn have an impact on your ability to conduct an email marketing campaign.

Thankfully, you don’t need to do all that. Mailchimp has outlined a few steps to resolve your Mailchimp Omnivore Warning issue, depending on when you imported new contacts.

  1. If you imported contacts recently and you've never had a compliance issue before, there's probably something in your latest import that caused the problem. To resolve this, Mailchimp suggests that you undo the latest import and reconfirm the addresses.
  2. If you haven’t imported any addresses recently, it’s like an issue with your existing list. If you have not conducted any campaigns recently or sent emails to your audience regularly, your mailing list could contain old or invalid addresses. Reconfirm the addresses in your audience.
  3. If you are not sure when your contacts were imported, if you’re using a shared account for instance, MailChimp recommends that you use segmentation to remove the addresses that may have caused the issue.

Preventing Mailchimp Omnivore Warning

Everyone is likely to agree that prevention is better than cures. This means that you should take action to avoid a Mailchimp Omnivore warning in the first place. Thankfully, it’s not all that hard to do it. There are a number of methods that can help you in this process and get you closer to that 100% deliverability.

1. Use Double Opt-Ins

You need to be using the double opt-in method for new subscribers. This process requires an additional step of verification: after someone indicates that they want to sign up for your mailing list, they will have to wait for an email and click on a link to reconfirm their desire.

With this extra step, you can be sure that you are getting an actual user instead of a bot or someone using a fake email. While the double opt-in process might be a bit of a hassle, it is guaranteed to give you more valid contacts which will help you maintain a clean list.

Which, in turn, will make sure that you don’t get the Mailchimp Omnivore Warning

2. Avoid Generic/Role-Based Email Addresses

MailChimp is very serious about generic and role-based emails and treats any mailing list that contains generic or role-based emails to be dirty lists.

What are generic/role-based emails? These are email addresses such as “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” or “[email protected]”. These addresses don’t have any names attached to them because they are not used by any one unique user.

Instead, a whole team or department all share the one email. Essentially, these emails are a mailing list of their own. Even if one contact opts into your mailing list with this email address, others who use the same email might not care for you or your mailing list.

And as such, they all usually have a very high bounce rate and very low open rates. Mailchimp Omnivore rightfully does not allow them on the platform and this could lead to you receiving a Mailchimp Omnivore warning.

3. Exercise Caution With Third-Party Lists

Having processed thousands and millions of potential email addresses, Mailchimp has a database of any and all known spam email addresses. While no mailing list is entirely immune to spam emails, you are especially vulnerable to it if you are using a third party list that you either bought or “borrowed”.

In addition to being filled with old, invalid emails, these lists are almost certainly infested with spam emails. If Mailchimp detects such emails on your list, you’ll get a Mailchimp Omnivore warning. Which is why building your own list is one of the most important lessons when it comes to Email Marketing 101. Keep a clean and updated list that you acquired yourself and Omnivore will not be a major problem for you.

4. Use An Email Validation Service

You can do a fair amount of work manually. But with most mailing lists containing thousands, if not more, email addresses, sometimes the best thing you can do is hire an email validation service to help you out. These services, also known as email list cleaners, will rigorously go through, format and verify all the emails in your list.

The help provided by email validation services is immense. The service will automatically delete any email address that has an unfixable issue. Things that can be fixed will be marked for you to take a look at. Whether you have a small list or a long one, an email validation service can help you ensure that it is 100% clean.

Mailchimp Omnivore Warning vs Mailchimp Account Suspension

While a Mailchimp Omnivore Warning is a very serious issue, you don’t need to be concerned about it being too serious. Getting a Mailchimp Omnivore warning does not mean that your account has been suspended.

This is what a Mailchimp account suspension looks like:

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Mailchimp Account Suspension

However, Mailchimp Omnivore warnings and account suspensions can be related. According to Mailchimp, some of the reasons they may suspend your account are:

  • Violation of the terms of use
  • High abuse rate
  • High rate of hard bounces
  • High unsubscribe rates
  • Direct complaints

This is not a comprehensive list, obviously. But do note that they say a high number of hard bounces and abuses as two of the reasons why you could be suspended. Both of these are issues that Mailchimp Omnivore is designed to combat. Both of these are also issues that you can avoid by having a clean and valid list.

VerifyBee — Email Validation That Is Right For You

Email marketing campaigns are a massive part of today’s digital marketing landscape. Success in email marketing campaigns is heavily dependent on your message reaching your audience. Mailchimp Omnivore is a tool that helps you in this regard, but still… a Mailchimp Omnivore warning is something that can throw a spanner into the works of your email marketing campaign.

It’s certainly something you want to avoid as much as you can and the best way to do that is through an email validation service. Plus, with the rate at which spammers adapt their ways and the number of potential fake emails that can infest your mailing list, really the only way to get a clean and accurate list is using a trustworthy email validation service like VerifyBee.

With pricing that won’t break your bank and cutting edge email list cleaning techniques, VerifyBee is the one tool you need to ensure that you need to make sure you see the least number of Mailchimp Omnivore warnings. Sign up now, get 100 Monthly Credits free and improve your email marketing campaign today.

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